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Hillsdale Mom Seeks Support Expanding 'Joan’s Law'

Rosemarie D'Alessandro, a tireless advocate for the safety and well-being of children.
Rosemarie D'Alessandro, a tireless advocate for the safety and well-being of children. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT
In the Joan Angela D’Alessandro White Butterfly Sculpture and Garden last year are, from the left, Michael D'Alessandro, John D'Alessandro, and Rosemarie D'Alessandro.
In the Joan Angela D’Alessandro White Butterfly Sculpture and Garden last year are, from the left, Michael D'Alessandro, John D'Alessandro, and Rosemarie D'Alessandro. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joan's Joy

HILLSDALE, N.J. — Rosemarie D’Alessandro and her son, John, will be outside the Stop and Shop in Emerson Saturday collecting signatures for their latest effort: expanding Joan’s Law.

The bill, now with the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee, would deny parole to anyone convicted of killing a child under 18 during a sexual assault.

Currently, the law covers crimes involving children under 14.

It was named after D’Alessandro’s daughter, Joan, who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a neighbor after delivering Girl Scout cookies to his home in 1973.

Through their nonprofit, Joan’s Joy , the D’Alessandro family of Hillsdale has been working to change the law since 2010.

“There’s no magic number of signatures we need,” said John D’Alessandro. “We already have given over 2,600 signatures.”

The hope for Saturday’s supermarket table: another 200.

According to John D’Alessandro, the family will know it has enough signatures whenever the bill is passed.

The measure has two champions in Ass. Robert Auth (R-Old Tappan), sponsor of the bill, and Ass. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), one of its co-sponsors.

Joan’s Joy does whatever it can to enhance and protect the lives of children, including funding fun outings and educational programs for children.

But it keeps issues of safety front and center.

The Joan Angela D’Alessandro White Butterfly Sculpture and Garden in Hillsdale recently was beautified by Girl Scouts and Mystical Gardens of Dumont , using flowers donated by numerous Bergen nurseries.

It will be the site of the 2nd Annual Joan’s Joy Child Safety Fun Fest 12-5 p.m. Sept. 17. A total of 25 resource and information tables will be set up and kid-friendly activities, snacks, and giveaways will be offered.

The day will feature opera singer, a children’s author performing a play, and other delights.

This year, Rosemarie D’Alessandro is excited that Healing Space, a center of the YWCA Bergen County , will have a table at the event.

“Healing Space deals with people who’ve experienced sexual violence and some have been murdered,” D’Alessandro said, adding that the table will feature free shirts as part of the center’s Clothesline Project.

People can draw and write hopeful messages on free shirts.

“Sometimes I just feel angry that there’s such injustice,” she added, “and it makes me want to fight more. I have a lot of compassion for these people.”

Anyone interested in being a sponsor for the Child Safety Fun Fest should write to John D’Alessandro at rosebd@email.com.

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